Turn, Press, Pull — Gonna Get Ya

Controls.jpeg

So as I go around town, I see more and more of these industrial-type control panels. 

The problem is that they are stupidly in the open and unprotected or otherwise easily defeated.  

While probably not a serious threat of any sort, this one apparently is a unit to control some fans in an underground garage open to the public. 

You see the knobs you can just turn.

And one with a yellow warning sticker above it.

As if that will keep someone with bad intentions from messing with it. 

You also see the red and yellow lights…hey. let’s see if we can make those flash on, off, on.

Panel 13, nicely numbered for us–let’s look for 1 to 12 and maybe 14+.

It just continues to amaze me that in the age of 9/11 and all the terrorism (and crime) out there that many people still seem so lackadaisical when it comes to basic security. 

Anyone in the habit of leaving doors and gates open, windows unlocked, grounds unmonitored, computers and smart phones without password protection, data unencrypted and not backed up, even borders relatively wide open, and so on. 

Of course, we love our freedom and conveniences.

We want to forget bad experiences.

Could we be too trusting at times?

Maybe we don’t even believe anymore that the threats out there are impactful or real.

But for our adversaries it could just be as simple as finding the right open “opportunity” and that’s our bad.😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

X Marks The Spot

X Marks The Spot

So what is this with the big orange X on the street in downtown Washington, D.C.

Is this the site for something really big and grand going up here–maybe the next big monument or tower (hehe)? 

Hopefully, (G-d forbid) not the next ground zero for the Iranians who have once again tested their long-range missiles in violation of UN resolutions and have called us their “main enemy.”

Can anyone out there really understand why we’ve abandoned a decades long relationship with Sunni-Saudi Arabia (and related other friendly Sunni states in the Persian gulf) and instead replaced it with a deal with Shia-Iran that hates the U.S. and is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction and the ballistic missiles to deliver them?

Since an estimated 10-13% of the Muslim world is Sunni, renouncing the relationship with Saudi Arabia–and by extension the 1.5 billion Sunni Muslims (of a total 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide)–seems like a very risky proposition.

Indeed, 1) going into Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Husseim and liberating the 70% of the Iraqis that are Shia, then 2) lifting sanctions and aligning ourselves with Iran, the largest Shia country, and 3) now allowing Iran and Hezbollah to go into Syria to support the Alawite-Assad regime (the predominant Shia group) presumably has us taking sides in the Sunni-Shia Muslim worlds. 

However, why in the world would we choose those that explicitly hate us, support and conduct terror, and vow to destroy the U.S. over those like the Saudis that have in some ways worked with us in the past (even if we don’t need their oil as much now)?

Just a hypothetical, but perhaps could we be strengthening the smaller, thereby weaker Shiites as a counterbalance to an otherwise overwhelming Sunni majority Muslim world and a potentially dangerous and developing radicalized powerful ISIS state.

And if this is our strategy, at what risk are we playing this hand with a dedicated Iranian foe that has it’s own schemes for hegemony with a powerful Caliphate and the nuclear weapons to match.😉

(Source Photo: Danielle Blumenthal)

Who’s Gonna Pay For That Wall

Border Fence

So presidential candidate, Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico to control immigration for homeland security and the economy. 


But more than that, he thinks Mexico should pay for it.


Today, on CNN was a response from Mexico’s ex president, who said, we’re “not gonna pay for that f****** wall!”


I was walking around laughing to myself for about 10 minutes–the zany and (un)predictable action-reaction in politics and diplomacy. 


You can’t make this stuff up. 


Just an aside, but wouldn’t you say Ex-President [of] Mexico instead of the Ex-Mexico President –Oops, who was working the captions at CNN today. 


What will be surreal and hilarious after this is if the “f****** wall” would really happen, and if Mexico would seriously end up paying for it.😉


(Note: This is not an endorsement for any candidate or party.)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Terrified Of Terrorism

Terrorism

Sure there are terrorism scares that are just hoaxes, and generally-speaking, we feel quite protected by our nation’s values, wealth, and entrepreneurial spirit, by Homeland Security, and by being surrounded with the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and our friendly neighbors Mexico and Canada. 

So we can be very assured–no fear, right?  That’s what we need and want to function normally in every day life.

But perhaps behind the veil of daily bravado is a not-so subtle fear about something really bad happening again–whether a 9/11 or a San Bernardino or a Boston Bombing or anything in between or even possibly more extreme, including attacks on our critical infrastructure (via kinetic means, cyber attacks, or EMP weapons) or even attacks with WMD (from anthrax to nukes in suitcases)–there is certainly plenty of attack vectors, means, and bad actors. 

It was interesting-scary, the other day, there was a video circulating on Facebook of a “radical Muslim”-like character with a turban or something distinctive (I can’t really remember) and carrying a backpack. In scene after scene, the character goes up to innocent bystanders and throws his backpack in their direction. The people didn’t know him or what was in the backpack or why he was throwing it in their direction. Yet, over and over again, the people jumped up hysterically in fear running for cover like there was very possibly no tomorrow. 

Similarly, we watch on the news almost daily of terrorist attacks around the world–school attacks, beach attacks, restaurants and cafe attacks, theater attacks, grocery store attacks, house of worship attacks, funeral attacks, ambulance attacks…and there literally is no end to this list of what and who is considered a legitimate target by terrorists–we all are.

In the last couple of weeks, there was surveillance captured of Muslim women visiting a number of synagogues in Miami around the same time and asking questions suspiciously–could they have been staking these out for possible future attack, similar to the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue with butcher knives, axes, and guns that massacred people praying and in devotion to their maker?

In the last half a year, we have seen terrorism morph in Israel from volleys of missiles indiscriminately shot at cities, tunnels to attack and abduct, and suicide/homicide bombings to become up close and personal butcher knife attacks in the throat, chest, and back of victims old, young, man, women. Everyone who is available to kill is being called to martyrdom, even the most little children being indoctrinated to slash and thrust a knife into any unsuspecting victim. 

So as we listen and watch the goings-on in the world and we say to ourselves those attacks happen in Paris and London and Turkey and Ukraine and Libya and Tunisia and Nigeria and Yemen and Lebanon and Syria and Iraq and Kuwait and Pakistan and Afghanistan and India and Indonesia and and and…but not [so much] over here. 

We say it, and we hope it, and we pray it, but in the back of our minds we instinctively fear otherwise. 

So while panic is certainly not helpful, perhaps phony bravado is not what is really needed either, but rather a renewed focus, investment, and commitment to our security–with more gates, guns, guards, intelligence, and advances in technology to stop the next attack(s).😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Irina Slutsky)

Cybersecurity Lost In Unknowns

Security

Today unveiled is a new Cybersecurity National Action Plan


This in the wake of another Federal data breach on Sunday at the Department of Justice where hackers stole and published online the contact information for 9,000 DHS and 20,000 FBI personnel


And this coming on the heels of the breach at OPM that stole sensitive personnel and security files for 21 million employees as well as 5.6 million fingerprints.


While it is nice that cybersecurity is getting attention with more money, expertise, public/private poartnerships, and centers of excellence. 


What is so scary is that despite our utter reliance on everything cyber and digital, we still have virtually no security!


See the #1 definition for security–“the state of being free from danger or threat.”


This is nowhere near where we are now facing threats every moment of every day as hackers, cybercriminals, cyber spies, and hostile nation states rapidly cycle to new ways to steal our secrets and intellectual property, commit identity theft, and disable or destroy our nation’s critical infrastructure for everything from communications, transportation, energy, finance, commerce, defense, and more. 


Unlike with kinetic national security issues–where we regularly innovate and build more stealthy, speedy, and deadly planes, ships, tanks, surveillance and weapons systems–in cyber, we are still scratching our heads lost in unkowns and still searching for the cybersecurity grail:


– Let’s share more information


– Let’s throw more money and people at the problem.


– Let’s seek out “answers to these complex challenges”


These have come up over and over again in plansreviewsinitiatives, and laws for cybersecurity.


The bottom line is that today it’s cyber insecurity that is prevailing, since we cannot reliably protect cyber assets and lives as we desperately race against the clock searching for real world solutions to cyber threats. 


Three priorities here…


1) Build an incredibly effective intrusion protection system

2) Be able to positively tag and identify the cyber attackers 

3) Wield a powerful and credible offensive deterrent to any threats😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Iran Man

Iron Man

Today, Iran warns a U.S. Navy ship and fighter jet to stay away from military exercises they were conducting.


And what did we, the Superpower, do? 


We hightailed it out of there. 


Yet, presumably we were in international waters this time, so it’s curious why the U.S. military would take it’s orders from Iran if we were legitimately there. 


This is just…


– A little more than 2 weeks after Iran seized 2 U.S. Navy ships and 10 sailors and put them execution style on their knees and broadcast this to world.


– And less than a month after Iran fired missiles within 1.3 km of the U.S. aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.


Wonder why did Iran warn us this time and not last month with the aircraft carrier–should we be “thankful” again to them, this time for warning us.


– And just less than 2 weeks ago, Iraq-based Shiite terror militias (alleged proxies for Iran) abducted 3 more Americans (almost simultaneously with their prisoner swap with us–refilling their human cache).  


– All this, plus the 2 ballistic missile tests (those capable of carrying nukes) that Iran conducted in October and again in December in violation of U.N. resolutions, and what do we have? 


A new “Iran Man” (not Iron Man) in town–with over $100+ billion to spend on global terrorism while chanting “Death To America”–and he most certainly isn’t a superhero.😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Would ANYONE Close Gitmo?

Gitmo

So over and over again, we read about the desire and promise by some to close Guantanamo Bay (“Gitmo”)–the prison for terrorists against the U.S. 


What are the reasons given and do they make any sense?


1) It’s costly–Yeah, it’s costly to house prisoners, especially incredibly dangerous ones like terrorists who commit mass murder like in 9/11, but what is the cost of letting them go free, especially when the known recidivism rate of the released detainees is close to 29%!


2) It inspires other terrorists–Really, since when does imprisoning bad apples inspire other bad apples. Isn’t one of the well-recognized and intended purposes of incarceration is to dissuade and deter bad behavior, as well as to rehabilitate. Even according to those who question the effectivenss of the deterrent capability of prison, studies show that it should be used to “incapacitate offendors (particularly, those of a chronic, higer risk nature).” In other words, we need to take and keep the terrorists off the battlefield!


Can an argument be made to bring the terrorists into prisons on American soil? Sure, but it makes a lot more common sense not to bring terrorists into the American heartland and risk further violence and danger to our citizens from known terrorists and their jihadist associates. 


Additionally, after 9/11 and the loss of almost 3,000 people, our brave U.S. serviceman and women spent a lot of time and hard work and risked their own lives to capture these dangerous terrorists…why would we want to release the terrorists endangering our military and our citizens all over again (especially when the threat has not abated–see below)?


Has the threat of terrorism gone away that we can say the war on terror is over and so let’s send the terrorists home (the question itself almost sounds ludicrous for anyone living in the age of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, and more)?  Well, according to the RAND research experts, “there has been an INCREASE in the number of Salafi-Jihadist groups, fighters, and attacks.” 

 

And after the recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, the downing of the Russia airliner, and many other terror strikes, it is no surpurse that “Americans name terrorism as the No. 1 U.S. problem.”


Perhaps, this helps us understand why Congress is blocking the closing of Gitmo, and why none of us should be able to understand why violent, dangerous terrorist detainees are continuing to be released to hurt U.S. citizens again.


(Source Photo: here with attribution to JBrazito)